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After missing 12 Bulls games, Richard Hamilton ‘out indefinitely’

Chicago Bulls guard Richard 'Rip' Hamiltplays his first game as Bull  December 20 2011. Hamilthas missed 12 games this

Chicago Bulls guard Richard "Rip" Hamilton plays in his first game as a Bull December 20, 2011. Hamilton has missed 12 games this season and is now "out indefinitely." | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 1, 2012 12:22PM

PHILADELPHIA — Tired of the on-again, off-again saga of injured guard Richard Hamilton, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau ostensibly changed Hamlton’s from “day-to-day” to “out indefinitely” on Wednesday.

Thibodeau indicated he won’t play Hamilton again until he’s completely healthy with little or no risk of aggravating the leg injuries that have forced Hamilton to miss 12 of the Bulls’ 23 games this season.

After missing 10-of-11 games at the start of January, Hamilton played in five consecutive games, missed a game against the Bucks on Friday, played against the Heat on Sunday and missed the Bulls’ game against the Wizards on Monday.

He’s definitely out for tonight’s game against the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center and probably a few more after that. Forward Luol Deng also is out with a torn ligament in his left wrist. But Deng is expected to play on Thursday against the Knicks. Hamilton’s nagging injuries are more problematic.

“I’m concerned with this thing become reoccurring,” Thibodeau said prior to the Bulls’ shoot around at Wells Fargo on Wednesday afternoon. “I want to make sure this time that he’s completely healthy. [With] a guy like that, you have to be careful with, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Hamilton, who had been hampered by a groin injury on his left side earlier in the season, suffered a thigh injury during the game against the Heat.

“Just say my whole left leg,” Hamilton said with a chuckle when asked whether the groin or his thigh was bothering him. “It’s the same [today]. It’s not worse since after the last game, because once the adrenalin comes down it’s worse than what it was when you were playing. It’s tough right now.”

Thibodeau acknowledged that the compressed schedule after the lockout has played a part in managing Hamilton’s injuries. The Bulls have played 23 games in the first 38 days of the season — only the Pistons have played as many. And 13 of their games have been on the road.

“I think if you’re home the first month it’s a great advantage, because your games are spaced out and you can see in practice [how an injured player is doing],” Thibodeau said. “If you’re on the road a majority of the time like we’ve been … your practice time is so limited that basically you’re trying to make judgments based on the rehab part, what he can do in shootarounds.

“Shootarounds are entirely different than a regular practice because there’s no contact. So you’re just trying got get a read there. Your normal progression would be, ‘Do the non-contact stuff on the floor, Can you handle that?’ If that’s good the next step is regular practice, can you take on the contact? How do you feel the next day? Unfortunately for us, we haven’t been in those situations.

“[And] you’re never going to get to the intensity level of a game in practice. So you’re almost two steps away. The big thing right now is to just to back it up and make sure he’s completely healthy.”

NBA coaches have been loathe to blame the effects of the lockout for anything this season. But almost any facet of the Hamilton injury seems to come back to the compressed schedule.

“The important thing to factor in [when judging whether an injured player is truly ready] is where you are with your schedule,” Thibodeau said. “Rip’s been diligent with his rehab. He’s spent a lot of time in the pool. He spends a lot of time with Fred [Tedeschi, the team’s trainer]. And he’s had some of these things in the past. But it’s a different season because they were off so long and now you’re coming back. We just have to be patient and make sure he’s right.”

Hamilton, who will turn 34 on Feb. 14, said “an injury’s an injury” but also said “a lot more travel and all that other stuff” has made this injury tougher to manage than previous ones in his career.

“Yeah, because we have so many games,” he said. “Usually you have 3-4 days of rest and then you can go ahead and try it. Now it’s like a game, then a day off, then a game and a game and another game. You can easily miss 4-5 games in a matter of a week.

“I just want to get right and be able to play.”

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